TRADERS and residents have welcomed the go-ahead for a new Eldene centre with a large supermarket, which is tipped to bring £15m-worth of investment and about 250 jobs to Swindon.
The council’s planning committee granted conditional permission on Tuesday to allow Morrisons to build a 25,000sqft superstore, with 250 car parking spaces, on the former site of Dorcan House in Dorcan Way.
The scheme also includes three smaller independent retail units. The council says the three tenants at the existing parade of shops, with the exception of the Co-op, would be given first refusal to relocate to the three units, whose freehold will transfer to the council once built.
The council plans to redevelop the existing council-owned shopping parade for non-retail uses, although the Crumpled Horn pub, Eldene Health Centre and Eldene Community Centre, which houses Eldene Pre-School, will remain in the existing centre.
Businesses and residents have given the thumbs-up to the plan for the supermarket, which Morrisons hopes to open during 2014.
Lindsey Herbert, a bar attendant at the Crumpled Horn, said: “I think it’s a brilliant idea to have a Morrisons over there because you won’t have too far to go to do your shopping. We have got to travel to Asda or Tesco or to town at the moment.
“I think it will make the centre look nicer, and obviously more people will be coming into the area. I cannot say more customers are going to come in, but hopefully.”
Jose Tocha, a cashier at Betfred, said: “From a business point of view I think for Betfred it will be better because it’s more people that are going into the Morrisons.
“It will bring other customers to the shops I think.” He added that it would be beneficial to be in a new unit, as the existing parade had problems, especially when it rained.
Warehouse operative James Irwin, 34, of Bowleymead in Eldene, said: “It will just make it look a bit tidier.
“It needs to be tidied up a bit, it’s a bit of a dive around here.
“The job thing is the best thing. There’s a lot of people unemployed around here so there’s a lot of problems for kids.
“Plus I’ve got 16 and 17-year-olds who might be able to get jobs over there.”
Rosaline Wheaton, of Dickens Close, Liden, said: “We have got a Co-op over Cavendish Square so we don’t need a Co-op here. We haven’t got a Morrisons in this part of the town.
“The centre’s outdated. This would make it look nicer. Morrisons could generate more jobs in the area and just give the estate a better name, really.”
Morrisons held a public consultation on the project in May at Eldene Community Centre to explain the proposal and answer questions.
A survey by the chain found 97.78 per cent supported the proposed supermarket, while 94.44 per cent supported the creation of a new Eldene local centre.